As this NYT article suggests, when an economy’s potential is as underused as that of Greece’s, the pressed-spring theory says that a giant leap forward can quickly be achieved. This is what I once wrote about a 7-8% annual growth potential for Greece.
Now, public literature is full of anecdotes about the failings of the Greek economy, of Greek politics, perhaps even of the Greek state. It definitely pains to read that Greece, the country which could (should?) be the world’s largest supplier of olive oil, is now reduced to a small role in the olive oil market and, to add insult to injury, reduced to the silliest and least profitable role — selling olive oil in bulk to Italy so that Italy can re-brand it and market it throughout Europe and the world.
Does’t that make Greeks look like the dummies of the world?
Again, nowhere is the upward potential greater than where reality is near bottom. And there is so much light at the end of the tunnel — if only one would look for it. Let me just mention three subject matters:
Again, if Greece were a company, the turn-around manager would already have his work cut out for himself with only these three resources. I recognize that a country can’t be run like a company but there are several things a country and a company have in common.
When, in times of financial crisis, a company doesn’t have competent management and good leadership, the turn-around challenge becomes so much harder, if not impossible. Particularly in times of financial crisis, during periods of painful adjustments, good leadership will always communicate with all employees about ongoing progress. The famous questions of: Where were we? Where are we now? Where do we still have to go?
I read today that Greece is now in non-compliance on about 210 points of the loan agreement. How many Greeks do even know that the loan agreement has 210 points? There are so many myths out there as regards Greece’s compliance (or non-compliance) with commitments it has made! So I looked up the original memorandum of May 2010 and subsequent ones to form a first-hand opinion. Well, I gave up. Far to complicated!
The President of Germany admonished Chancellor Merkel over the weekend that she would have to make more of an effort to explain to German citizens what the Euro-crisis and the measures against it are all about. A very laudable initiative at a time where not even the majority of German parliamentarians seem to understand these issues (according to surveys).
Someone in the Greek government must start communicating with the general public. Perhaps it would be best to hire a good PR-agency to do that. It would certainly do Greeks a lot of good if they heard that there are indeed things which Greece makes and which the world needs. If they hear how foolishly some of the things are being handled at present (see exports of olive oil), they might be motivated to improve the situation on their own (i. e. without “help” from the government).
Above all, when Greeks see that there are things they can make which the world needs, this could lead to a light at the end of the tunnel. Greeks would understand that they only have to make more of these things for a better life to return. I quite like the following paragraph in the NYT article.
But average citizens have been beleaguered for too long by forces beyond their control. They were occupied by three different countries in World War II. Afterward, Europe’s richest countries subsidized Greek farmers. When Greece later joined the European Union, it was lent huge amounts of money. Now Greece is again waiting for other Europeans — especially the Germans — to decide precisely how miserable their next decade will be. The problems are overwhelming, but it’s somewhat satisfying to know that the solutions might be based on things the Greeks have long known how to do themselves, like processing olives and brining cheese.